Definition of leaf in English:

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Pronunciation: /lēf/

noun (plural leaves /lēvz/)

Image of leaf
1A flattened structure of a higher plant, typically green and bladelike, that is attached to a stem directly or via a stalk. Leaves are the main organs of photosynthesis and transpiration. Compare with compound leaf, leaflet.
Example sentences
  • The female Thrypticus deposits an egg in a water-hyacinth petiole - the stalk that attaches the leaf to the stem.
  • Shoots of M. micrantha were separated into stems, leaves, and reproductive organs.
  • The egg-sacs are deposited in twisted leaves or may be directly attached to a leaf.
1.1Any of a number of plant structures similar to leaves, e.g., bracts, sepals, and petals.
1.2Foliage regarded collectively.
Example sentences
  • To provide a backdrop to this foliage-ruled leafscape, use climbers to link together canopies of leaf.
  • She kept her eyes straight ahead as she flew over the rest of the clearing and then into a dense forest, her bare feet racing and leaping over stone and leaf.
  • Providing you prepare the soil well, and top dress every year with more compost, you can plant climbers quite densely, two or three feet apart, for a wealth of leaf, colour and scent.
1.3The state of having leaves: the trees are still in leaf
More example sentences
  • And our interest does not stop when the saplings go into leaf.
  • The bare branches of deciduous trees don't muffle noises like they do when they're in leaf.
  • Lift, divide and spread out winter aconites while still in leaf.
1.4The leaves of tobacco or tea: [as modifier]: leaf tea
More example sentences
  • This type of smokeless tobacco comes in loose leaf, plugs or twists.
  • In other words, tobacco used to be a herbal medicine but public experimentation led to the smoking of the tobacco leaf.
  • So I got some tobacco leaf, mixed it with water and gave it to the baby.
2A thing that resembles a leaf in being flat and thin, typically something that is one of two or more similar items forming a set or stack.
Example sentences
  • Flat, thin leaves of horn were translucent and used for windowpanes in place of glass.
2.1A single thickness of paper, especially in a book with each side forming a page.
Example sentences
  • There stood my ‘sister’, and a small box containing a single leaf of paper.
  • With stifled sobs, she unfolded the single leaf of paper from within and began to read the rigid, soldier-like writing.
  • He went over to her and took the book from her hand; still keeping the page he then marked the page with a small leaf of paper.
page, sheet, folio
2.2 [with modifier] Gold, silver, or other specified metal in the form of very thin foil.
Example sentences
  • He recently began to put gold and silver metal leaf under the paint, and he uses a hand-rubbing technique to create a soft, antiqued look.
  • In the early 1970s very thin leaf gold was skillfully implanted on rhodochrosite to make spectacular faked specimens.
  • The stacks were then hammered until the gold had spread sufficiently to make a thin foil or leaf.
2.3The hinged part or flap of a door, shutter, or table.
Example sentences
  • Place the hinge leaf in the mortise and position the self-centering tool in the countersink recesses of the hinge.
  • Take the old hinge screw or the hinge leaf with you to the store to make sure the new screw is the right size for your hinge.
  • A large solitary crane takes off to the left, subtly guiding the eye towards the missing leaf of the double door or shutter where the seascape doubtless continued.
2.4An extra section inserted to extend a table.
Example sentences
  • They are a little like the leaves of a dining table that can be used to make it longer.
  • Clear the writing items off the desk, take out the leaf in the table, hide the telephone and get rid of the porcelain figurines!
2.5The inner or outer part of a cavity wall or double-glazed window.
Example sentences
  • In consequence, the tiling could not be nailed at every course and relied solely on the mortar bedding to the outer leaf of brickwork.
  • Remove the outer brick leaf to damp proof course level and rebuild the walling, ensuring the wall ties are inserted in the correct positions.
2.6Any of the stacked metal strips that form a leaf spring.


[no object]
1(Of a plant, especially a deciduous one in spring) put out new leaves.
Example sentences
  • But if you prune back hard or after the tree leafs out in spring, it may be slower to come into bloom that year.
  • Ash trees were leafing up, the hedges were thick.
  • Most trees are leafing out already; some have made significant progress.
2 (leaf through) Turn over (the pages of a book or the papers in a pile), reading them quickly or casually: he leafed through the stack of notes
More example sentences
  • You can turn the pages as though leafing through the book.
  • Next to that is another device - a page turner that automatically leafs through any book placed on a raised platform, operated at the touch of a button.
  • He approached it on tip toes, leafing through a pile of papers on the surface.
flip through, thumb through, flick through, skim through/over, browse through, glance through/over, riffle through, rifle through;
scan, run one's eye over, peruse



shake (or tremble) like a leaf

(Of a person) tremble greatly, especially from fear.
Example sentences
  • Absolutely terrified and trembling like a leaf, I sat down and played for him.
  • I was shaking like a leaf on the first tee, as nervous standing over the ball as I had ever been in my life.
  • I was shaking like a leaf, and she told me to ring the police.

take a leaf out of someone's book

see book.

turn over a new leaf

see turn.



Pronunciation: /ˈlēfij/
Example sentences
  • The inn-keeper in the Milan version is vexed and disconcerted with the frugality of the meal of leafage and bread, which has been contemptuously served on a tin plate.
  • Here and there, a sweet chestnut still in full summer leafage dotted the grassland, and a couple of miles away, a stand of willow marked the line of Possum Creek where it twisted and turned, dipping at last into light woodland.
  • Among them are the carved rosette and floral vines emanating from the crest along the upper stiles, the five curved slats with leafage and fish-scale carving, and the pendant rosettes on the front legs.


Pronunciation: /ˈlēfləs/
Example sentences
  • There are tables and chairs for the notional interiors; the stark silhouettes of leafless trees are picked out against white walls; at one end some wooden frames denote an old, abandoned silver mine.
  • It was perhaps a natural thought that the approach of winter should drive the shivering, hungry ghosts just like the cattle from the bare fields and leafless woods into the warm cottages.
  • In Germany huge swathes of the Black Forest died, leaving the stark outlines of leafless conifers in place of the formerly rich vegetation.


Pronunciation: /-līk/
Example sentences
  • For another, they've taken to tarting up their lattes with leaf-like artwork carved into the foam with subtle tricks of the wrist while pouring the drinks.
  • It's the circular leaf-like shape of the island that gives Antigua its undulating shoreline, within which so many of its famed beaches are nestled.
  • More detailed morphological analysis of this extreme phenotype showed the conversion of stamens into very small leaf-like structures.


Old English lēaf, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch loof and German Laub.

Words that rhyme with leaf

aperitif, beef, belief, brief, chief, enfeoff, fief, grief, interleaf, Leif, lief, Mazar-e-Sharif, misbelief, motif, naif, O'Keeffe, reef, seif, Sharif, sheaf, shereef, sportif, Tenerife, thief

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: leaf

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